2009/05/15

A Tip of the Hat to Richard Avedon

DaGoddess @ 14:00

If I could inhabit another photographer’s body for just a year of his/her life while he/she were at some prolific phase, I’d pick Avedon. Apropos in that he was born on May 15, 1923, if one must work that way.

A typical Taurus with an artistic bent, Avedon pursued his passion with a broad eye. It mattered not where he was, he found beauty all around him. Dignity, too.

Roberto Lopez by Richard AvedonFrom Audrey Hepburn to the farmer’s daughter; from William Casby, a former slave, to Muddy Waters, a former sharecropper turned King of Chicago blues; from Buster Keaton to Marilyn Monroe; from Klansmen and protesters to those in government in charge of policy like Kissinger and the Kennedy clan; he covered it all. And he did it with a style all his own. He found something to connect to in each of his subjects, even if his subjects included elephants and snakes. One of the most telling images is not necessarily the image itself, but rather the placement of it in his home: a dirty oilfield worker Roberto Lopez from the American West series; Lopez, haggard after a long day at work, hangs in a corner overlooking a shrine of religious images, as if the physical toiling on earth is just as necessary as the emotional preparation that goes toward our salvation. Or that earthly existence is looking towards the next step. Maybe it’s that heaven is seen as so great because of the trials we face down here. I don’t know, but it struck me as powerful. Intentional or not, it was there.

In every photo, there was never any sense of exploitation or a hint of disdain. This man found a way to connect person to person and draw out something special and humane in them so that we might see it too.

If I could step into a time machine and be any photographer, I’d pick Avedon this time around.

At the same time, I pick Muddy Waters’ Hard Again, the cover of which Avedon shot, “Mannish Boy’s” opening words, “Everything… everything… everything gonna be all right this mornin’…”

I may never be Richard Avedon, and I’ll never be Muddy Waters, but my camera and I will be up at Doheny Blues Festival tomorrow enjoying the day thanks to a few volunteer hours turning into a free ticket. Too bad I’ll miss B.B. King on Sunday. Couldn’t get that volunteer shift, nor could I afford the ticket. No worries. “Everything… everything… everything gonna be all right this mornin’…”

While I’m there tomorrow, I’ll catch up with those I know and share the photos I’ve taken of them. And I’ll take more.

Avedon or not.

2 Comments

  1. Have fun!

    Lovely post.

    Comment by Cheri @ Blog This Mom! — 2009/05/15 @ 14:34

  2. Thanks, Cheri!

    Comment by DaGoddess — 2009/05/15 @ 14:51

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